Letters from Oldenburg, Germany (LOG) 1.3: Holiday season…'A Freeze is coming'

22nd December, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone 🙂

Most of Europe is experiencing an intense winter with temperatures hardly ever peeking above 0*C. The roads are icy and footpaths in front of those away on holidays are slippery. The snow is relentless. Stories about people stuck at airports evoke my sympathy now more than ever! But now that Solstice is nearly over, it will only get better from here on 🙂 And we can look forward to more sunshine and warmth 🙂

The past week was quite busy. Work is picking up pace slowly and the forms etc. are also slowly getting done. I opened a bank account and applied for my insurances. We had two parties last week. Thursday with the whole department and Friday with just our group. The Thursday one was a Christmas party. We all got food to share and brought presents to exchange. There is a custom here during such parties to bring packed something that you’ve owned and don’t use or need. These gifts are assigned random numbers and then distributed by the chit-picking system. I first got a Barbie’s dress (!!) then picked another one because there were spares. I returned the Barbie dress which someone else used to dress Baby Jesus in!! The gift I got was a shoe-box with German books on Telepathy, Soothsaying, German grammar and a VIDEO TAPE!! of mathematic operations (whatever that means) and a computer game called ‘Aliens in the House’ 🙂 I preferred this very much to the Barbie dress!!! And I will learn German faster just so that I can read those books 🙂

The gift I had got to give away was a table-cloth and a stack of Cinnamon which went to a family man who said that would be enough cinnamon for a year !! I’m beginning to understand much more German now than I did when I landed. I can understand Ads on TV and radio 🙂 I can understand better when I read though because then I can go at my own pace. I even speak some now 🙂

The Friday party was for one of our group-mates who is finishing his PhD. He will stay on as a Post-doc though. He is an Englishman and hardly knows any German despite being here for a year. Our group sat around in my supervisor’s house, eating and talking and it was really nice because they could talk about fun things and then mention papers they read about something related! It is nice to see that they are humans apart from academics. We have many musically inclined people in our group so I’m thinking of organising an evening for that in January when people are back from the holidays. One of my groupmates insisted on walking me back to where I was staying as the colleague I’m living with was spending the night at another friend’s and we discussed music, religion and research. My supervisor’s kids are very cute 🙂

I am learning to make Pastas. But I can’t wait to set up my own kitchen where cats don’t prowl 🙂

I understand them much better now. What they need and when. And I like to think they like me too. Since the 3rd of them died, their owner spends less time at home and they do miss her. But they are quiet and unbothersome.

I will soon get a number and I will start carrying my phone around so I hope to send you all some pictures of Winter and places here.

Keep happy and healthy 🙂

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